Can you sell on WeChat via Crossborder? Yes but
You will find the complete guide to sell on WeChat on cross-border e-Commerce, with practical tips for how to do it.
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- Open WeChat Store – a nice one
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Check our previous articles about cross-border e-commerce on Tmall, JD, Kaola, VIP.com…
GUIDE TO SELL CROSS-BORDER ON WECHAT
We have written a lot of articles about Wechat – one of the most important social media, online payment and selling platforms in China.
In this cross-border e-commerce series, we would also talk about Wechat since it is possible, and convenient for foreign businesses to sell their products directly to Chinese consumers without having a Chinese business license.
1. What is Wechat?
Wechat was originally a messaging app like Whatsapp, but it has “Newsfeed” feature with like/share/comment functions similar to Facebook.
After that, Wechat has been continuously updated with new functions, making it No.1 Super app used by more than 1 billion people.
Wechat payment is one of two most popular online payment methods in China, along with Alipay. Thanks to its integration with multiple services, Wechat enables users to perform various transactions without leaving the app such as booking movie/train/flight tickets, online shopping, taxi, ordering food…
Its development of mini-programs once again wins huge popularity among users and proves Wechat’s understanding of user behaviours. Mini-program is basically something like app-in-app. It allows users to open other apps within Wechat interface, thus making it fast to load and helping save users from downloading too many apps in their phones.
2. Wechat shop
In China, product research or getting recommendations is often done through social media. Recently, this consumer behaviour has been expanded from deciding what to buy, to actually buying directly on social media.
According to the iConsumer China Survey carried out by McKinsey, the percentage of users that used WeChat to purchase doubled from 2015 to 2016 (to 31% of WeChat users).
A distinct feature of WeChat, not found in western equivalents, that allows for this purchasing behaviour is the so called “WeChat Stores”.
Merchants with verified accounts, which have coupled their accounts to WeChat payments platforms, can open an in-app store on WeChat.
In this way, (foreign) businesses can sell their goods to millions of potential WeChat customers directly, without the need to guide them to external platforms. And the customers in turn can utilise the WeChat-integrated online payment systems to pay for their ordered goods.
Wechat shop can be under mini-program version or normal website version.
WeChat Mini-programs and HTML5 websites look quite similar, although Mini-programs provide a smoother user experience within WeChat.
You should have both a WeChat Mini-program (for optimal user experience website) and a web-based WeChat Store (which will also work in other platforms such as Weibo or Douban).
3. Why is Wechat shop popular among users?
Wechat shop has many features that make the shopping experience of users extremely smooth and convenient:
- WeChat payments: the ability to pay from within WeChat, with one click
- WeChat log-in: users are automatically logged-in without having to manually enter their email or password
- Automatic address collection: access the list of addresses that users store in their WeChat account (requires user approval), so users don’t have to fill in addresses again.
- Integration with influencer accounts: Influencers can easily link their posts to WeChat stores or specific product pages, so users can buy products immediately after seeing the endorsement from influencers.
- Social sharing: WeChat stores are easy to be shared with friends through WeChat.
- Re-targeting: you can re-target users based on their WeChat Store behavior with WeChat ads or WeChat messages from your Official Account
- Offline access: users can scan QR codes anywhere and access your Wechat stores at ease.
- Customer service: by having customers buying via your WeChat shop, connected to your WeChat public account, you give them an integrated and intuitive way to speak to your customer service: simply by speaking or writing to the WeChat public account
- Native WeChat coupons: your WeChat shop also enables you to easily send discounts to your customers via a WeChat Official Account. This feature enables you to keep your users updated about the latest promotion and keep them engaged with your brand,
4. Wechat shops for cross-border e-commerce
Foreign companies without any Chinese business license can create the Wechat shops with all of their functions and the Wechat shops are linked to their Official accounts.
Products are shipped directly from abroad or through bonded warehouses (we’ll provide details regarding cross-border logistics in the coming part of this series).
Payments are made in RMB by consumers and then transferred to your local bank account in your local currency thanks Wechat overseas payment service.
4.1 How to create a Wechat Official Account for you as a foreign company
Besides individual users’ accounts, WeChat offers a range of choices for businesses to initiate a corporate or public WeChat account.
Currently, companies may choose between three public WeChat accounts:
- WeChat Subscription Account
- WeChat Enterprise Account
- WeChat Service Account
For overseas companies that aim to participate in cross-border e-commerce, Service Accounts are generally the best option due to the fact that they unlock a wider range of features enabling marketing, customer service and sales via (cross-border) e-commerce.
Service accounts appear directly in WeChat users’ contact list and are, thus, highly visible branding resources.
A foreign company has 2 options to open a Wechat Official Account (OA):
- Borrow the business license from a business partner or use a third-party agent to register an account.
It usually takes 7 business days to register a Chinese WeChat account.
Note that you will need to verify the account annually in order to access some of the features like WeChat payment or advanced API.
If you choose this option, you will not be able to apply for the normal WeChat payment account since it would get linked with the bank account of the company which provided its Chinese business license.
You can link it with a WeChat cross-border payment account or any Western payment solution like Paypal and Brain Tree.
- Companies can also apply for a WeChat account with their foreign business license directly through Tencent.
Note that this is not a standard process, it can take two months to finally get the account.
The company needs to prove to Tencent that it wants to do e-commerce in China. It also needs to provide an existing foreign e-commerce website.
Tencent charges a 2,000 USD fee to open this type of account.
Tencent can also open accounts for companies willing to heavily invest in WeChat advertising (above USD 1M per year).
Check Our service to open Wechat Official Account: https://www.marketingtochina.com/how-to-register-an-official-account-on-wechat/
4.2 WeChat cross-border payment account
You would apply for this kind of payment service to sell cross-border via Wechat stores. This payment method doesn’t require you to have a Chinese bank account.
Chinese customers pay in RMB
When Chinese shoppers buy goods overseas, they can pay in RMB by WeChat Pay. Your local currency will be converted into RMB based on real-time rate.
Cross-currency settlement is accepted
Major currencies are included: HKD, USD, GBP, JPY, CAD, AUD, EUR, NZD, KRW, THB, SGD, RUB, DKK, SEK, CHF and NOK.
WeChat Pay settles each transaction with foreign vendors based on the price in local currency. For unsupported currencies, transactions can be made in US dollar.
T+1 day settlement
T+1 day settlement ensures a fast and safe payment transaction.
4.3 Create a Wechat store
You can use 3rd party WeChat store providers in order to open a WeChat store just like Western brands rely on solutions such as Shopify, Salesforce Commerce or Magento to develop their own stores.
The 4 most popular 3rd party WeChat e-commerce platforms are Weidian, Youzan, JD.com and Lewaimai.
- Weidian is the biggest free platform to create WeChat shops.
Weidian enables companies to create stores connected to WeChat via WeChat login, payments and other WeChat social functions.
As of early 2015, Weidian claimed that almost 30 million stores had been created on its platform.
- Youzan is a domestic WeChat store provider with millions of users in China.
Pricing ranges from 6,800 RMB (~1,000 USD) to 26,800 RMB (~4,000 USD) per year depending on features, and excluding add-ons.
The best thing about this platform is that the design can be customized and it includes lots of menus and music
- JD.com: When it comes to trust and authenticity, JD WeChat store is no doubt the biggest and most trustworthy platform for customers. But this trustworthy reputation comes with a much higher bar of entry.
Read our article about how to sell cross-border on JD here:
- Lewaimai: If you are operating a restaurant and want to offer food delivery service, Lewaimai will be a good platform to look into.
This platform is specifically designed for WeChat food delivery service.
5. Advantages of selling cross-border on Wechat
The biggest advantage of using unique social media applications, such as WeChat, is that companies can both sell to, and, engage with their customers or followers on one overarching platform which is deeply embedded into their everyday lives.
Additionally, compared to other platforms, opening a store on WeChat gives brands a lot of creative space to customize the official store look and content to fit the brand image.
Furthermore, customer behavioural data is easily accessible and shared with official account owners (contrary to large platforms like Tmall and JD, which keep the raw data for themselves), thereby creating high potential for customer relationship management (CRM). This allows companies to manage and analyse detailed customer interactions and data to improve their sales growth.
Finally, Wechat stores allow brands to interact directly with customers and serve them on a more personal, one-on-one level.
However, Wechat stores can be very competitive; and there is no organic traffic, so brands have to market aggressively to drive traffic to their stores.
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